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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2005 Sep;13(9):762-8.

Identification of an urinary metabolite profile associated with osteoarthritis.

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TNO Quality of Life & TNO Pharma, PO Box 360, 3700 AJ Zeist, The Netherlands.



Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common diseases among the elderly. The main characteristic is the progressive destruction of articular cartilage. We lack quantitative and sensitive biomarkers for OA to detect changes in the joints in an early stage of the disease. In this study, we investigated whether a urinary metabolite profile could be found that could serve as a diagnostic biomarker for OA in humans. We also compared the profile we obtained previously in the guinea pig spontaneous OA model.


Urine samples of 92 participants (47 non-OA controls and 45 individuals with radiographic OA of the knees or hips) were selected from the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project (North Carolina, USA). Participants ranged in age from 60 to 84 years. Samples were measured by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) with subsequent principal component discriminant analysis and partial least squares regression analysis.


Differences were observed between urine NMR spectra of OA cases and controls (P<0.001 for both male and female subjects). A metabolite profile could be determined which was strongly associated with OA. This profile largely resembled the profile previously identified for guinea pigs with OA (approximately 40 out of the approximately 125 signals of the human profile were present in the guinea pig profile as well). A correlation was found between the metabolite profile and radiographic OA severity (R2 = 0.82 (male); R2 = 0.93 (female)).


This study showed that a urine metabolite profile may serve as a novel discriminating biomarker of OA.

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